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Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (NASDAQ:AMCC)

F3Q08 (Qtr End 12/31/07) Earnings Call

January 23, 2008 17:00 pm ET

Executives

Scott Dawson - VP, Treasury and Investor Relations

Kambiz Hooshmand - President and CEO

Bob Gargus - SVP and CFO

Barbara Murphy - SVP and GM, Storage

Analysts

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Apurva Patel - Goldman Sachs

Blake Harper - Signal Hill

John - Morgan Stanley

Operator

Welcome to the Applied Micro Circuits Q3 Fiscal 2008 Earnings Call. (Operator Instructions).

Now for opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Scott Dawson, Vice President of Treasury and Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Scott Dawson

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining today's conference call. On the call today are Kambiz Hooshmand, our President and CEO, and Bob Gargus, our Senior Vice President and CFO.

Before turning the call over to Kambiz, I want to remind you that the forward-looking statements discussed on this call, including guidance that we will provide on revenue, non-GAAP gross margin, non-GAAP operating expense, and certain other financial targets, are based on the limited information available to us today. That information is likely to change.

There are numerous risks and uncertainties that affect our business and may affect these forward-looking statements, including product, demand and mix, product development and introductions, design wins, manufacturing, impact of workforce reductions in the integration of new or moved operations, risks relating to macroeconomic conditions, markets, and other risks that are set forth in our SEC filings, including our Form 10-K for the year ended March 31, 2007.

Our actual results may differ materially from these forward-looking statements, and AMCC assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements made on this call. I want to point out that AMCC has several analysts that cover the stock, and this creates a range of variability relative to the street financial models. When we say street estimates, we mean the consensus of the major analyst models and not necessarily the guidance that was given by the company.

With that I'm going to turn the call over to Kambiz.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thanks, Scott, and good afternoon, everyone. Our progress in transforming AMCC continues. We've now refreshed our product line across process, transport and store setting up a powerful product cycle to fuel our future growth.

Let me give you some key examples of this. We released 9690SA SAS as promised and early customer attraction is promising. We also released PowerPC 405EX and customer interest has been phenomenal. We already announced that the 405EX won Product of the Year by Electronic Products Magazine for 2007.

In the next two quarters, we'll complete a refresh of the PowerPC product line that spans applications in wireless, printing and pervasive computing.

Today, we are shipping two to three times as many evaluation kits to our customers as we did last year. Our optical transport network solutions have secured almost every key socket available. Our EDC, KR and FFE and SFP+ solutions are winning a large number of designs.

Business conditions also remain favorable. Inventories and the channel are lean. The significant revenue correction we experienced back in June of 2007 is now largely behind us. We finished the December quarter with a strongest backlog position in more than two years. Our design wins in various processor applications including storage are ramping into production.

The IBM sales agreement we announced earlier today has far reaching implications for AMCC. First, this demonstrates the confidence we have built in our execution, our product line and AMCC as a trusted partner. Second, this will materially increase our reach to penetrate key accounts that have long been the stronghold of our larger competitor Freescale.

Of course the significant volatility in the stock market so far in January primarily on recession worries has us nervous as well. But we are cautiously optimistic that our strong product cycle will help us toughen the impact of any possible slowdown ahead. In short, we are making good progress across our three product lines and continue to build key partnerships and relationships like the one we announced today.

Let me now cover each product line in a little bit more detail before I turn the call over to Bob, to go over the financial results. Our Transport business grew 34% sequentially in the December quarter. This momentum started in our second fiscal quarter with strong bookings and accelerated nicely into the third quarter. The Metro WDM and OTM markets were bright spot in our Transport business. We saw significant order activity from many of our Tier 1 transport customers. The migration to 10-gig, WDM and OTM networks is in full swing.

AMCC is a recognized technology leader in 10-gig. With significant design wins in virtually all of the top-tier transport companies. AMCC is in an excellent position to capture growth in 10-gig. Products that ship into these markets include our newly introduced PHYs, Ethernet over WAN mapper and forward error correction devices.

In the enterprise and data center markets our design win traction for a variety of 10-gig applications continues to be quite promising. As gigabyte Ethernet is emerging in the edge of the enterprise and data center networks, 10-gigabyte Ethernet is needed to aggregate the traffic.

The transition to SFP+ for 10-gig continues and in many areas we are in the lead position to win the initial sockets. The backplanes in the data center servers and switches are migrating to 10-gig and our 10-gig backplane or KR PHY are receiving very encouraging responses from key OEMs. Our QT2025 is the industry's first XFI-to-XAUI-PHY with electronic dispersion compensation that supports a number of 10-gig fiber standards.

AMCC continues to invest strategically in new high speed technologies and increasingly top tier vendors view AMCC as a company with a key intellectual property needed to enable 10-gig and 100-gig.

Now let me turn my attention to the Processor business that targets wireless datacom, printing and storage markets. Following 55% sequential growth in the second quarter our overall processor revenues were down 8% sequentially in this quarter. We expect that processor revenues to fall back a bit after minor supply chain adjustments by our customers. We expect growth to resume in the March quarter.

Our Processor business is benefiting by the continuing growth in wireless data traffic. We have secured key design wins in wireless infrastructure and 802.11n wireless access points.

We are seeing steady growth for products developed for enterprise wireless connectivity. Security concerns have effectively been addressed and businesses are rapidly deploying access points to allow seamless connectivity. We expect our leadership in this space to strengthen with the introduction of our latest product based on the PowerPC 405EX Processor.

As I mentioned earlier, this product was recently named Product of the Year by Electronic Products Magazine. Considerably optimized for higher throughput 802.11n managed access points, the 405EX is garnering significant customer attraction. We expect to begin shipping 405EX products for revenue next quarter.

We have also begun sampling the PowerPC 460GT aimed at next generation base station at networking systems and the PowerPC 460EX aimed at next generation printer products. All of these products feature built in PCI Express, USB, high speed memory interfaces and high performance security processing technologies. Overall we have the strongest product portfolio ever in our PowerPC product family.

Our focus on storage processors is making solid progress with several leading manufacturers ramping up their RAID processing systems based on our 440SP and 440SPe products. The 440S product family is a key building block for a variety of RAID systems.

Earlier today we announced that QLogic a leading supplier of high performance storage networking solutions has selected AMCC's PowerPC 440SP for its new leadership SANbox 6140 Intelligent Storage Router.

Additionally today we also announced that Accusys a worldwide leader in design manufacturing and marketing of RAID products will use our 440SP in its new leadership RAID controller family. We expect this market will contribute to our growth over the next few quarters and provide us solid ongoing contribution to revenue and margin. Again as I mentioned before we enter the fourth quarter with the strongest backlog we have seen in over two years with much of the strength coming from direct customers.

Now moving on to Storage. Third quarter demand was strong and our revenues were up 11% sequentially. As you will recall we announced at the end of last quarter that we released and began shipping our SAS controllers. We are pleased to announce that our very first SAS card has been received very positively by the industry.

We receive top accolades from Tom's Hardware one of the top three online media publishing companies for technology in the world with over 20 million readers and operations in 12 countries. It's rated the AMCC's SAS controller as higher performing in RAID 5 and especially in RAID 6, beating out the strong field including the industry veteran at Adaptec. Over the next few quarters we'll continue our focus on the transition to SAS.

I am now going to turn the call over to Bob to discuss the third quarter financial results and after that I will provide the guidance. Bob?

Bob Gargus

Thanks, Kambiz. Third quarter revenues were $66.3 million, up $8.1 million, or 14%, compared to the prior quarter, and down 14% from the same quarter a year ago. Processor revenues were $24.9 million, Transport revenues were $18.8 million, Storage revenues were $13.6 million, and non-focus revenues were $9 million. I will mention that our non-focus revenues have stabilized enough at these levels that it no longer seems important to break them out. We will do so for the March quarter and following that we will split the revenues between Processor, Transport and Storage. Next quarter I will supply history for the last two quarters, so everyone's models can be on the same basis.

Total focus revenues were $57.3 million, up $4 million, or 7% sequentially. Sales to North America accounted for 46% of total revenue, sales to Europe contributed 16%, and sales to Asia contributed 38%. No single direct customer represented 10% or more of the December quarter revenues.

Before I leave the revenue in bookings I also want to comment that our required turns business to make the guidance is down from the prior quarter for the second consecutive quarter. We do not give up the book-to-bill, but can comment that it was greater than one.

This is also the time of the year when we might expect to get revenues from a large gaming application that we had indicated a year ago was reoccurring about every four to six quarters. The March guidance does not include revenues from this application and the timing of the next generation is not yet determinable.

Turning to the P&L. Our previously announced one-for-four reverse stock split became effective on December 10th 2007. Accordingly, all of the share count and EPS figures that I will provide you today will be on a post split basis.

Our third quarter non-GAAP net income was $3.1 million, or $0.05 per share, compared to the non-GAAP net loss of $3 million and $0.04 per share for the prior quarter. Our non-GAAP net operating margin as a percentage of revenue was 1.6% compared to a negative 9.1% for the prior quarter. The December quarter, non-GAAP gross margin was 57% up approximately 80 basis points from the prior quarter and is primarily the result of the higher transport revenues partially offset by variances and overhead absorption from prior quarters.

Looking forward to the March quarter, we are expecting that gross margins will be flat, give or take 50-basis points, as we continue to work off higher absorption rates contained in existing inventory units.

Non-GAAP operating expenses were $36.7 million compared to our guidance of $37 million, this was the sequential decline of $1.3 million. The December quarter non-GAAP R&D expense was $23.5 million down $0.5 million sequentially while the non-GAAP SG&A expense was $13.2 million down $0.8 million sequentially.

Net interest and other income was $2.1 million and included in the $0.8 million write-down of the value of certain securities in our investment portfolio. The share count for EPS purposes was 67.2 million shares down 1.6 million shares from the 68.8 million shares used in the September quarter. We bought back 2.7 million shares during the quarter. We are expecting the March share count for EPS purposes to be in the range of 65 million shares.

In terms of OpEx guidance for the fourth quarter we are expecting expenses to come down to the $36 million level as we complete our goal to reduce operating expenses to that quarterly level. Interest income is expected to be between $1.9 million and $2.1 million reflecting lower cash balances as a result of our stock buyback program. Our tax rate continues to be projected at 3% for the next several quarters.

Turning to the balance sheet. Our cash and investments totaled $186.3 million at the end of the third quarter. This is the total of the cash shown on the balance sheet and includes approximately $69 million of cash related investments that are shown as non-current assets on the balance sheet. This is down $31.8 million from the end of the second quarter.

We generated $8.9 million of cash from operations and used approximately $37.8 million for net share repurchase activity. We used $1.7 million for capital expenditures and the net of other sources and uses of cash and investments is a negative $1.2 million. You can refer to our cash flow statement in the earnings release for more information.

Our working capital was in excess of $150 million and we have no long term debt. DSO was 43 days at quarter end, compared to 36 days for the prior quarter. We expect future DSO to range from 40 to 45 days.

Net inventories were $39.8 million, down approximately $0.7 million from the prior quarter, and inventory turns were $2.9 compared to $2.5 last quarter. We remain committed to bringing our inventory turns to the 3 to 3.5 level by the end of the fiscal year. I will also comment that distributor inventories increased in the December quarter by $0.5 million, but overall inventory in the channel remain lean at roughly four to five weeks on average.

AMCC has $200 million stock repurchase program authorized by the Board of Directors, $5.7 million of this authorization was still available at the end of the quarter. Capital expenditures for the quarter were $1.7 million, and capital depreciation was $1.7 million.

Turning to GAAP. As you know, our non-GAAP financials exclude certain items required by GAAP, such as amortization or impairment of purchased intangibles, amortization of stock-based compensation, and restructuring charges. The timing occurrence and magnitude of such items can be difficult or impossible to estimate for future periods.

Our net loss on a GAAP basis was $4.3 million versus a net loss of $8.1 million last quarter. The difference in our third quarter GAAP net loss of $4.3 million and our third quarter non-GAAP net income of $3.1 million is a delta of $7.4 million. This $7.4 million is primarily comprised of; one, $2.3 million of stock based compensation; two, $5.9 million of amortization of purchase intangibles; and three, net favorable expenses related to stock option investigation of $0.8 million as a result of a reimbursement of an insurance payment.

Looking forward to the fourth quarter we can expect certain non-GAAP charges such as $5.9 million of amortization of purchased intangibles and an estimated $2.3 million to $2.7 million of stock base compensation. The complete reconciliation between the GAAP and non-GAAP financials can be found in our earnings release which can be found in the investor relation section of our website. Please note that there no reconciliation for forward-looking non-GAAP measures.

That concludes my remarks and I will now turn the call back to Kambiz.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thanks Bob. Order patterns remained strong throughout the third quarter and we entered the March quarter with a strong backlog. I am really pleased with our growth backlog, order patterns and the steps we've taken to further extend our profitability this quarter. Overall the market conditions still remain volatile or unpredictable and as a result we feel it is appropriate to guide for fourth quarter revenue growth of 6% to 10% sequentially.

As Bob mentioned earlier, we are tracking well towards achieving our operating expense goal of $36 million by the end of the March quarter and we expect fourth quarter gross margin to be flat plus or minus 50 basis points as product mix is offset by favorable product cost variances.

Now I want to give you a little bit more color on the IBM announcement. Our relationship with IBM began back in 2004 with the purchase of the PowerPC 4xx product line. We've continued to build on this relationship demonstrating our ability to execute and win and we are starting a new chapter that will really benefit both companies.

IBM Semiconductor Solutions are known to be some of the best in the world. Compared to AMCC they have a much larger sales force than AMCC and account penetration through their ASIC and semi portfolio.

By marketing our products to their clients both companies experienced faster growth. We get the design wins while they get the expanded product portfolio and the additional foundry business. This is again a testament to our great accomplishment on growing, expanding the PowerPC product line.

The revenue for these deals will belong to AMCC; IBM will pay their sales force commissions.

Now, I am going to turn it over to Scott for the Q&A section of this call. Thanks very much.

Scott Dawson

Thank you, Kambiz. Operator please provide instructions to our listeners for the queuing process.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions). We will go first to Allan Mishan with Oppenheimer.

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Hey, guys. Nice job, few questions for you. First, do you expect all segments to be up in the March quarter?

Kambiz Hooshmand

I think so Bob?

Bob Gargus

Yes, we do.

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Okay. Great.

Kambiz Hooshmand

That is [Multiple Speakers] when it comes from the CFO, right Allan?

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Sure, sure. A few quarters ago you gave that lengthy discussion on consumption level. Do you believe that once you achieve that March number for revenue that you will have return to consumption in all your major businesses?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Yes, we believe that and obviously if you take our guidance, it guides to a number that's higher than what we talked about back on July 5th. So we believe that we've the potential to exceed that particular level.

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Okay, great, and then on the IBM relationship. Can you just expand on how your products fit within the IBM portfolio. Will these show up in catalogs and on-screens the same way IBM products do just for different applications or what have you. And also how soon can you have revenue from this new deal?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Sure, Allan let me cover your two questions in two parts. First part is regarding the marketing campaign, we still have some details to workout. We obviously wanted to get that press release out and get it to the investor community. Our belief is that, the first step is to train the IBM sales force, which as I said in the prepared remarks is quite large and make sure that they are marketing our products.

Second around the whole details of the marketing campaign we have a little bit more work to do with IBM. But overtime we believe that their incredible reach into the semiconductor businesses of very large accounts, which historically have been the strong hold of free sale will benefit us a great deal. In terms of that leaves to the second part of my answer or your second question.

In terms of timeframe it takes three to six months to begin to win designs and then from there depending on the market segments you are in, it takes anywhere from six to nine months to possibly two to three years to recognize revenue. In some market segments like wireless infrastructure the time to revenue is much larger in some market segments, like the printer market the time to revenue is much shorter. So it's in that range and I would certainly not expect any revenue, insight of 12 months from this, but after that we begin to recognize revenue.

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Okay, great, and than a final question. How is SAS for you today? I guess as a percentage of storage and maybe a year from now: how big could that be for you? Just trying to get a sense for the shape and size of that ramp?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Yeah, I've got Barbara Murphy on the call with us, so Barbara I’m going to let you answer the call, answer the question.

Barbara Murphy

So, last quarter the SAS was actually quite a bit less than 10% of our revenue and so we didn't really see the impact last quarter. Obviously we launched the product right at the end of September and we've been focused on kind of working with our existing customer design wins that are in SAS and transitioning goes back to AMCC.

So the process typically takes about 90 plus days and we've not yet really seen any impact, significant impact from SAS revenue. But we expect that it's going to gain momentum this coming quarter and if we were to expand out 12 months, we should be looking at least 25% of our revenue coming from SAS based products.

Allan Mishan - Oppenheimer

Okay, thanks very much.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thanks, Allan.

Operator

We'll go next to James Schneider, with Goldman Sachs.

Apurva Patel - Goldman Sachs

Hi guys, this is [Apurva Patel] on behalf of Jim Schneider. Thanks for taking my call. I've question good job on SG&A. Do you expect SG&A I guess stay in the at this decline, or do you expect to pick up again because of beginning of March quarter?

Kambiz Hooshmand

I’m going to let Bob answer this question.

Bob Gargus

Yes, so we’ve already guided that we expect the OpEx to come down to $36 million for the March quarter.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Correct.

Bob Gargus

And we've also indicated that given that kind of a level we don't know, if we can hold it completely their, but we are going to come close to holding it there as we go to next year. So I expect it will creep up a little bit, but I don't expect it to go crazy.

Apurva Patel - Goldman Sachs

Okay, a follow-up. I know you said earlier that backlog was strong, but have lead times changed because of strong backlog and I know you say you can't give much color on that and it was less than one. But: can you give anymore color on the like especially with the macro condition have customers order patterns changed?

Bob Gargus

So two things one, we indicated the book-to-bill was greater than one [Multiple Speakers]

Kambiz Hooshmand

Actually I will jump in and I will say that it was substantially above one.

Apurva Patel - Goldman Sachs

Okay.

Bob Gargus

And we've mentioned that our turns business required has dropped again in this quarter as a percentage of the total, like it did similarly last quarter. So we're pretty happy with the fact that we're getting more and more visibility entering the quarter. Other than that I think this is just a conscious effort on our part also to work with our customers to get orders in early, get more visibility but other than that I don’t think anything really has changed.

Kambiz Hooshmand

I think I'll add some more color to that as a management team, obviously we've gone through a significant period of volatility back in June of 2007 we had a very volatile situation where our revenue dropped quite a bit because of the inventory correction across some of the product transitions and some of the customer mergers. And I think as a management team we've made a conscious effort to really put focus on this and to get the backlog in at the begging of the quarter. Customers can always cancel some of the backlog, but this gives us more confidence going forward it's a much more predictable business and I really want to congratulate my management team for doing a great job of recovering from that situation and coming to a point where our turns business is substantially less actually.

Apurva Patel - Goldman Sachs

Thank you, that's all.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thank you.

Operator

We'll go next to Sandy Harrison with Signal Hill.

Blake Harper - Signal Hill

Hi, this is Blake Harper for Sandy Harrison. Just I'm talking about the backlog, you said that those, obviously the strongest that you had, and that you've lowered the amount you need for the turns business we also say that's almost the highest amount as far as the dollar basis that you have had?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Yes?

Blake Harper - Signal Hill

Okay. And specifically some of the products that you talked about are the Ethernet over optical products. I mean, you had some positive comments on that. Do you have anything else to add about that specific product?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Well, in the carrier business several things are happening simultaneously which are benefiting us. One is bandwidth continues to increase on the internet at the rate of 50% to 100% and continues to be accelerated by some of the video applications, variety of video applications that you all know about. In addition, to that the transition from a voice centric networks to a data centric network really has begun and OTN, optical transport network is really optimized for data for carrying Ethernet over the optical network and by the way you happen to put voice on top of it as opposed to the way carrier networks used to be built, which is that they were voice optimized and then you happen to put data on top of it.

So the network is transitioning to higher speeds which is 10-gig and is also transitioning to OTN and we happen to have through good works that the team has done over the years and large number of design wins in Tier 1 OEMs. It almost doesn't matter to us which OEM wins at the end of the day as long as the pattern continues of the carriers migrating to 10-gig and migrating to OTN, we should see some pretty strong results there.

On the datacom side of our business, the transition to 10-gig continues for the same reason then which is growing at the data center as well and the transition to FFP product continues and we are seeing good customer attraction there, but obviously those are going to translate to revenue further down the road not this particular quarter. Did I answer your question?

Blake Harper - Signal Hill

Yes, great. Thank you.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thank you.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). We will go to Sanjay Devgan with Morgan Stanley.

John - Morgan Stanley

Hi. This is John on for Sanjay. Thanks for taking my call. You had mentioned that your channel inventories are pretty lean out there, just kind of wondering: how you feel about that level at this point, is it too lean or what are you thinking at this point?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Well, in general we would like our distribution partners to take on a little bit more inventory really not from the AMCC perspective, but from a customer perspective we've already had a couple of situations that we've managed through the past quarter where customers who were working with distribution could not get parts in time to meet their own quarter and as a result it creates a customer satisfaction issue.

So we are working with our major distribution to change that to increase the inventory level a little bit. But I think, the main reason we were making that comment about the fact that the inventory level remains lean is that with all this talk of recession all these issues going on in the market. Yes, there could be macro condition change, but we don't see an inventory correction contributing or at least amplifying any sort of weakness out there, because there is no inventory correction left to be done its already at a pretty lean level, so that was the main reason why we made that comment.

John - Morgan Stanley

Okay. Definitely understood, and my second question and last one would be just in terms of the overall environment, you kind of mentioned the macro issues. Obviously, you are not the economist out there but, I am just kind of wondering: what you are seeing from a may be a market segment perspective? What are your major customers thinking at this point? Or: do you have any insight into that?

Kambiz Hooshmand

Well, at this point in time, we don't see any indication of a recession. Now, we are somewhere in the food chain and we are a relatively small company and so if the recession is going to happen nobody is going to ask for our opinion or we are not going to be able to influence that. But at this point we see no indication of that across all of our products we see fairly good strength, but almost without expectation. So we are comfortable with the guidance we've provided we are also comfortable with the fact that its acquired less turns than before and I think only time will tell us this year of recession that's in the marketplace is true or not and certainly we don't see it in out business.

John - Morgan Stanley

Okay, great. Thanks very much.

Kambiz Hooshmand

Thank you.

Operator

And there are no further questions at this time. I'd like to turn the conference back over to our speakers for any additional or closing remarks.

Scott Dawson

Thank you operator. We'd like to thank all of you for your participation today. There will be an audio replay of this call available in the investor relations section of our website. You can also access the audio replay of this conference call by calling 719-457-0820 and entering the reservation number 7331488. Please feel free to call me if you have any additional questions. Again, thank you for your participation on the call today. And have a nice evening.

Operator

Thank you everyone. That does conclude today's conference. You may now disconnect.

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